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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

September 26, 2008 at 10:20 AM

Mariners 101

That’s 101 as in losses. And counting. Today, in Part III of our series on Rebulding the Mariners, we focus on the pitchers. Specifically, on how the ascencion of Ryan Rowland-Smith to a starting job rates as arguably the biggest development for a staff that — even according to manager Jim Riggleman yesterday — has been less than stellar overall.
Among the noteworthy items:
— Riggleman is most impressed with Rowland-Smith’s ability to deliver nearly seven innings every time out, at least during his run of seven consecutive quality starts
— The coaching staff feels Rowland-Smith is ahead of Brandon Morrow at this stage
— Rowland-Smith, in a blog entry, and later during an interview, states that Jose Guillen had an impact on the clubhouse last year that was sorely missed when the team fell apart early on this season
I thought I’d go into this a little deeper this morning. When I write so much in one day, working this blog, finalizing stories for this series, not to mention following up on the whole Ichiro thing yesterday, I find that I wind up forgetting what I put where.
I had meant to get into today’s story on Rowland-Smith that he does think that Raul Ibanez and Adrian Beltre are crucial towards clubhouse leadership and have to be brought back. This is important, because Rowland-Smith is probably going to take some heat for his criticisms of the lack of leadership earlier on in the season when the team fell from contention.
His main reason for writing the blog post, as we mentioned in today’s story, was that he feels the team has gained some positive momentum moving forward. Feels that it is not in the same leaderless, dire straits that it was earlier on in the year. He likes the changes that have been made and feels the younger players coming into the club will make it stronger as it moves ahead.
But yes, he does feel Guillen was important. And he does feel the clubhouse was in turmoil early on, beset by finger-pointing and panic. That there was a leadership void early — if not now. And that it proved costly. I know some of you here, and on other sites, don’t agree. But everyone’s got an opinion, don’t they?
Rowland-Smith’s blog has since been taken down by I don’t know why and won’t speculate, but I’ll try to find out.
Anyhow, we’ve tried to give you a better idea of what’s been going on with the team. Mostly via named sources. In fact, almost entirely via named sources. We put the “clubhouse insider” comments in there yesterday after wrestling with it. The Ichiro sentiment in the clubhouse did not begin this season and has existed in Seattle for some time. We could have kept quiet about it and not told you what’s been going on. But then we’d just have press passes and access without using that to go deeper. The rote denials from the team are to be expected in this case. They are as predictable as the team saying that things are looking up heading into next year. Any of you actually believe that to a significant degree? Any of you content to leave things just the way they are? Maybe you are.
But you’ll just have to trust me on the anonymous source. Some of you won’t, I realize. It’s OK, I can take the heat. Won’t be pressured into giving the person up by fan blogs or anyone else. All I’ll say is, I would never have gone with those paragraphs of the story if I did not believe in what was being told and had not verified it elsewhere. Yes, I picked the Mariners to finish in first place and have spent the entire season trying to figure out why they’ve become a 100-loss team. I’ve listened to some fans try to argue all year that there were no clubhouse problems, even as player after player, then the former GM and the former manager said otherwise. As each and every one of those offering on-the-record clues about strife have been dismissed outright by some fans as not reliable enough. Who exactly is reliable on this team? One or two people deemed popular enough? Sorry. The real world doesn’t work that way.
You can either believe what I’ve been trying to tell you about internal troubles — corroborated in part by Rowland-Smith and others before him — or you can keep on believing your own version of what’s happening in the clubhouse. Maybe you know more than I do. It’s always possible. I don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth. Just trying to keep you all informed. Almost always via named sources. This time with someone not named and for obvious reasons. That person will want to have a future. You don’t get to have one by calling out colleagues on a team in public. I am sensitive to that.
So, if you want to go on believing that Ichiro is loved and worshipped in his clubhouse, by all means, do so. I’m telling you there have been problems in this area and that they pre-dated this season. And that they were there during this season when things came apart.
And that’s it. Some of you want a media that writes what the team tells them is OK to write. And that prints only the official version, or stuff which the team’s hierarchy corroborates. You won’t find that here. But you can’t have it both ways. If you don’t want to read stuff that “stirs up trouble” from time to time, then you obviously want more of the toe-the-line stuff. And that’s your right. There are other places, I suppose, where you can find that reporting. But not here.
Here, we try to tell you what’s going on. Whether the team likes it, or not. And sometimes, though preferably not often, it involves anonymous sources. You’ll have to live with it. Or, go read someone else. But hey, this team has already lost 101 games. At some point, even the greatest dissenters among you will have to admit that it’s not all about the stats. That this team, for whatever reason — stats, makeup, injuries, chemistry all included –just didn’t mesh.



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